BRIDGES OF HOPE
You help us build bridges of support for stronger families and communities.
Bridges of Hope serves children and families in Crow Wing County and the surrounding communities. We focus on assisting families in crisis–whatever the crisis may be. Our staff specializes in connecting families with local resources by drawing on both traditional human services and non-traditional supports. We are the safety net between communities and county resources. We work to have an expert knowledge of ALL of our area resources and how to easily access them.
Q&A WITH JANA SHOGREN
Get to know our new Executive Director!
Tell us about your role at Central Lakes College. What are your core responsibilities?
I served as the Director of Development of the Central Lakes College Foundation for the last four years. As the Executive Director I was responsible for removing barriers for Central Lakes College students, mainly through scholarships, but I also oversaw the food pantry and housing projects. Last year—for example—the food pantry distributed approximately 17,000 lbs. of food to students with food access barriers. I was also responsible for outreach and fundraising and donor relations to help raise money for scholarships and the student access programs we offered on campus.
You’ve held the Executive Director position at Bridges of Hope before. What called you back/influenced your decision to return? Do you have plans to do things differently?
I am immensely grateful for the experiences I’ve had at Central Lakes College. I really enjoyed working with college students and interacting with the Lakes area community in a different capacity. Working at Central Lakes College, I learned a lot about the needs of college students in our area—many of them are first generation college students or non-traditional students from low-income families—and I was able to gain a new perspective in terms of gaps in our community. Returning to Bridges of Hope was a “heart decision”—I see it as an opportunity to return with a fresh set of eyes, a bolstered network, and different vantage point to meet the needs of our community. I’m excited to see how we can broaden our mission to support more people and our partnerships with community organizations like Central Lakes College to make an even greater impact.
What are your top priorities for Bridges of Hope in the coming year?
My first priority is to reignite and initiate relationship building internally with staff—ensuring we are on the same page in terms of mission and a vision for moving forward—and with the broader community to strengthen partnerships with community churches, resource providers, and individuals who are foundational to our work and make success possible. The second priority, which really is urgent and by no means secondary—is to assess the immediate needs of the Lakes Area community. This is especially important now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and so many of our neighbors are struggling. I want Bridges of Hope to step up as a provider and connector to community resources.
Are you from the Lakes area? What is your relationship with the community?
How are you involved?
I am originally from Grand Forks, North Dakota, but have lived in the Brainerd Lakes Area for nearly 20 years. My husband, Mike (who is originally from the area) and I see Brainerd as our “chosen home”. Our two kids were born here, and as teenagers, they keep us very active.
I spend a lot of my time giving back to my community. Before Central Lakes College and Bridges of Hope, I was the Children, Youth & Families Specialist at the Initiative Foundation. I serve on board of the United Way and Saint Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, I am a member of the Crow Wing County Child Protection team, and I am also a school volunteer at my kids’ school.
What do you like best about the Brainerd community—what do you boast about or what are you most proud of? What do you see as areas for improvement?
The Brainerd Lakes area is beautiful—I love spending time outdoors. I also love the people in our community—they are passionate and extremely kind. I think as a community we could do a better job collaborating, so we could serve more people, and there is an opportunity to understand one another a little better. This might mean having tough conversations, though I believe we can make a greater impact when we take the time to listen and learn from one another.
How do you foresee COVID-19 impacting the Brainerd area long-term and how do you/Bridges of Hope plan to respond?
COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that if we are to make it out of this pandemic stronger than before, then we need to rely on each other. COVID-19 has, in many ways, been an equalizer. Those who otherwise wouldn’t be considered “in need” are turning to Bridges of Hope due to unexpected job loss and all of the issues that stem from that—food and housing precarity, loss of medical insurance, for example. Bridges of Hope excels at meeting basic human needs, and we are prepared to meet the challenges ahead—however they may present themselves. For schools, it means supporting distance learning efforts; for home bound individuals, it means providing human connection and hot meals. Whichever way this pandemic takes us, Bridges of Hope is ready to adapt and respond.
What do you need from funders and donors now and in the immediate future?
From individual donors, consistency is key. If you are in the position to give monthly or quarterly, these gifts make a huge difference in our ability to meet the growing need for our services. From funders, I want them to know that while Bridges of Hope’s mission may seem simple, our work is incredibly nuanced, complex, ongoing, and ever changing. Funding is critical to keeping operations running and supporting our infrastructure to guide families towards stability, financial security, and hope.
Our mission is to build bridges of support, anchored in Christ’s love, between families in the Brainerd Lakes area and our community partners that can help them thrive and grow with hope.
PROGRAMS & SERVICES
Bridges of Hope links families to community supports and resources. It creates partnerships within the broader community to help strengthen, stabilize and support families in the Lakes area, sending a message of hope and empowering families to thrive.
We believe families can be strengthened through both formal and informal supports. We respect the diversity, individual needs, beliefs and values of those we work with.
CONTACT BRIDGES OF HOPE
Get in touch with Bridges of Hope to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.
2011 S 6th St, Brainerd, MN 56401, USA